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RECOLLECTION ON PROF. STEFAN VATEV'S 70TH BIRTHDAY AND 50 YEARS PROFESSIONAL WORK

Author: Stephan Vatev

Editor's Note: This anthology commemorate the 70th birthday of Prof. S. Vatev and 50 years professional work - viz., here we have a rare occasion to pay tributary on someone, who represented a celebrity in intellectual elite of pre-war capitalist Bulgaria and subsequently after socialist transformation of the country he was gradually subjected to total neglect. In the 70s and 80s of the past century it came to a curious situation that his name was not even mentioned in the textbooks of medical history. This conjugational situation was typical for socialist historians of science, who systematically overemphasized a role for the Russian and Soviet scientific contributions while deprecated influence from Western Europe on the democratic development of this country. We write this article as a small effort to rectify this misclassification and trace a path for further research.

 

Before continuing with summary of the book at hand and let us mention something on the titular Prof. Stephan Vatev. We have tried on several occasions in this booklist to emphasize a leading role for this author and his numerous contributions in medicine and social life. It has not been easy to draw a singular frame and outline his diversity of work, manifold publication activity and tremendous communal participatory living. This has been hampered, further by a lack of primary sources on Prof. S. Vatev - viz., contrary to a factual workload of some 300 primary publications /i.e., from which there are at least half a dozen bulk monographs/, further the writers of this review article have been able to find no more than 10 publications de visu.

Most of Stephan Vatev's his curriculum vitae with an extensive bibliography is contained in the leading editorial of this recollection book /i.e., this is the main source of information and is written by his longtime compatriot and colleague Prof. T. Petrov/. The rest of the book contain a variety of written material and some photo pictures of the ostensible commemorative, which in themselves have their intrinsic value but are out of scope from this presentation.

We proceed with our biographical essay on S. Vatev, however we repeatedly refrain that further commentaries should be written separately on his more important scientific works. Our agenda has been scheduled on two major parts - namely, i./ biographical data with lifetime activity and main points of professional realization, memberships and honorary awards; ii./ subject sensitive catalogue of his publication list, with mentioning on his most important publications /N.B., in the process of this review and it has occurred in the mind of the writer of this lines, that it would have been a better idea to write a separate book on S. Vatev ~ life and works; regretfully, we have decided to stay aside from this and for the moment a short exposť will suffice/.

Part One, 1866-1895: This part is about his early childhood and adolescence, which have lead to deserved studies and graduation in medicine. Born in the city of Lovech at 6 February 1866, from the family of well-known revivalist intelligentsia. His father Vatyo was an Abadjiya /i.e., tailor/ and used to model dresses for the turkish army at hometown. His mother was Tzonka, daughter of Tzocho the Kyurktchia /i.e., leather-man/ who profited from trade with furs. The family had 7 children and Stephan - called, with a nickname "Stoencho" was the elder. Whatever could be written for this early period and it is contained in the book "Materials on Lovech and Lovech region", which in itself is a classic in bulgarian ethnography. S. Vatev had his primary education in hometown, while his secondary education he finished at Pardubitze, Czechoslovakia. On return in 1882, he was appointed as librarian in hometown Lovech and in 1885 won a stipend to study medicine in Germany. He spent altogether some 10 years abroad, while mastering medical knowledge in Heidelberg, Tubingen and graduating in Leipzig /1893/. There have followed two years of specialization in internal medicine with pediatrics, when in 1895 he got a title "Doctor in Medicine" with his dissertation on Stomatomycosis (Soor).

Part Two, 1895-1920: This period from Dr. S. Vatev's lifetime traces his early to mid-level career in the medical service of the country. After returning from his studies in Germany, he is appointed ordinary physician in the town of Lovech. At that time medical administrator in the regional hospital was Dr. P. Orahovatz, representative of the liberal wing in the political elite of the state. It is from that time, that a friendship developed between those two eminent bulgarian functionaries, while the latter has done a lot for the career prosperity of the young doctor. As a further step in the medical service and Dr. Vatev was appointed pro-sector /i.e., chief-of-staff/ at the department of Internal Medicine, Alexander's Hospital in Sofia /1898/. Since this was the utmost developed medical facility in the country, it was a good opportunity for a wealth of research and administrative work in the capital. We see here Dr. Vatev as principal at the Directorate of Public Health /1908-1912/ and chairman of the Supreme Medical Council /1918-1919/, while those two positions are coupled with a number of strategic projects with his main participation. Among other things and he was instrumental for the architectural expansion of Alexander's Hospital /1908/; also, S. Vatev was author of the first project for state Public Health Law /1911/; also, during the Balkan Wars in 1912-13 and he was instrumental for the main hygienic activities to prevent and liquidate an epidemic of cholera, endemic and abdominal typhus among the bulgarian army; also, he contributed for improved registration of communicable diseases with statistics according to the international nomenclature, etc. This period ends with establishment of the first Medical Faculty in the country, where Dr. Vatev is appointed adjunct professor /1920/ and full professor /1923/.

Part Three, 1920-1946: The last part from his lifetime activity is engaged chiefly with administrative and coordinative work. Although his main appointment was at the Department of Pediatrics /i.e., where he served a full mandate until his retirement in 1936/, further we see Prof. S. Vatev in a multiple role of leadership positions which it would be difficult to enumerate in toto. Among the most important high-stakes of the titular have been - viz., i./ corresponding member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences /1898/; ii./ memberships in the anthropological associations in France, Russia, Germany, etc. /1907, 1909, 1913/; iii./ principal member of the coordinative committee of the Bulgarian Red Cross /1908/; iv./ Chairman of the Children's Relief Fund for Bulgaria /1925/; v./ honorary membership in the association "Yunak" from 1930 /i.e., this position from his biography is most controversial, since this was a pro-fascist organization with variety of international activities and close relationship with the monarchic government of King Boris III/. This last years from his life and particularly after retirement should be subjected to some criticism, moreover we don't have any factual data on his dealings until the time of his death /i.e., he has been reported dead in 9 March 1946, however this is doubtful on grounds that Dr. Vatev didn't really survive the World War and there is no evidence for a burial from close relatives of his/. In memmoriam.

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Picture 1: In the following note, we have included biographical data with some important publications from Prof. Stephan Vatev.

Biographical Note: Stephan Vatev /1866-1946/ was born in the city of Lovech, graduated from secondary school in Czechoslovakia /1882/ and studied with specialization medicine in Germany /1885-1895/. Has been working as ordinary physician in Lovech /1897/ and in Sofia at Alexander's Hospital /1898-1908/. Principal at the Directorate of Public Health /1908-1912/ and Chairman of the Supreme Medical Council /1918-1919/. From 1920 to 1936 Prof. S. Vatev has been heading at the Department of Pediatrics, Medical Faculty and there he was appointed at Dean's office in academic year 1927-28. Principal holder of as much as 30 honorary titles and positions, among which at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences /BAS/, Children's Relief Fund of Bulgaria /CRFB/ and Bulgarian Red Cross /BRC/. Retired from university position from 1936, died on 9 March 1946.

Important Publications: "Der Lehrer als Arzt" /written by F. Ruzhichka, translated by S. Vatev/ - Sofia, 1890; "Prufung verschiedener Arzneimittel in Bezug auf ihre Wirkung auf Soor kulturen" - Medizina, vol. 1, fasc. VII, 1895; "Exposition of Child Hygiene". - Pechatnitza "S. M. Staykov", 1927, 24 pp; "Jubilee Book on the History, Problems and Activity of Bulgarian Red Cross 1885-1935". - Poligrafia, 1936, 324 pp; "Recollection on Prof. S. Vatev's 70th Birthday and 50 years Professional Work". - Pechatnitza "P. Glushkov", 1936, 144 pp; "Craniometry in Bulgaria" - vol. XXXV, fasc. PM-17 from SBAN, 1941, 224 pp.

 

Addendum: This photo taken sometime 1938, lastly presents Prof. S. Vatev as serving President of the gymnastics organization "Yunak". See the Iron Cross hanging on his chest.

 

 

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